Back in the 1980s there was a big push to drill for oil off California’s north coast. Exploratory mapping revealed millions of acres of oil deposits from Bodega north, and from what I recall, the biggest concentration lay just off the Mendocino coast. Though logging and fishing were in full swing back then, the area was still considered pristine and the last thing people wanted to see were unsightly rigs in the ocean a few miles offshore. Thankfully the federal ban was put in place to keep the north coast waters “wild.”
Black gold has once again become a topic of discussion in recent years, especially when it comes down to American’s dependency on foreign oil. The average American probably wouldn’t have cared so much if gas prices hadn’t skyrocketed to record highs in 2008 and threatened to stay that way, or get worse, in years to come. But because of the global demand, the Bush Administration sought to relieve that dependence on foreigners by opening up areas of the United States to drilling. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was first on the list. Unbeknownst to many though, so was California’s north coast.
During the election, Republican nominee John McCain was very keen on seeing the federal ban on offshore oil drilling lifted. Now that the ban has ended when Congress let the moratorium lapse, the north coast is back in the cross-hairs. Though gas prices have dropped to lows not seen in over five years, the fear factor about what life would be like without oil is now on everybody’s minds. What’s scary to me is the fact that, unlike the ’80s, this time around big oil might just get their way.
There was an article on SFGate.com this morning about this very subject, and they included a map of areas of prospective interest to the oil industry. It’s disheartening to know that most of the Mendocino coast falls within big oil’s interests. Rigs could potentially be in place by 2012. If this happens, it would mean oil tankers would become a common sight off our shore, the risk of spills would increase ten-fold and for what, a temporary relief at the pump? It would do nothing to curb our dependence, nothing at all. In fact, I imagine it would only be a stepping stone for more drilling, equating to a few more decades of demand for the black stuff.
Ultimately though, the fate of the north coast lay in the hands of President-elect Obama. With more and more people in favor of drilling off the coast, there could be pressure for the President to take action, even if he may be personally against the idea.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out.
Meeting held at Walt and Jackie’s, 4:00 pm, followed by a potluck dinner.
Present: Walt, Jackie, Jack C., Bea C., Rodney, Julie, Pam, Bob W., Joan, Melissa, John, Matt, Andy H., Dave W., Wyatt, Chet, Agnes L., Michael B., Kim B., Kevin B., Carolyn, Carlan
Minutes of last meeting approved.
Treasurer’s Report: Jackie Dooley – Balance is $2177.77
Membership Report: Julie Rogers – Total: 59 memberships (some individual, some business, some family)
Blue Water Task Force: Rod has stepped in to do water testing, in Jackie’s place. Dave W. has written an article for Making Waves; Julie & Rod will send a water testing photo to include with the article.
Coastal Access: Bob W. reports that Smuggler’s Cove is not for sale. (The sign seen there is for a property on Chapman’s Point) The lot will be built upon, no surfer trail is likely. Bill will try to get more information (owners’ name is Pauli). Bob W. reported on the Jeter property sale – California State Parks has approved the acquisition of the Jeter Property. The Coastal Conservancy will pay ½ the appraisal cost with the property owners (Jeter) paying the other ½. The surfer trail is not in jeopardy. He expressed gratitude to Marilyn Murphy, the District State Park Superintendent for the Mendocino District.
Wave Energy update: Mike B. was not present to report. Dave W. explained Wave Shock and how it will affect the ocean environment if wave strength is diminished.
Surfari: Motion approved to have Surfari at the Caspar Community Center. Surfari planning meeting will be held January 17 at 4 p.m. at the Dooley’s. The following members volunteered to help with Surfari: Dave W., Rod, Julie, Jack, Andy, John, Pam, Kevin, Bill, Wyatt, Chet. (more helpers are needed!). Dave volunteered to call a band to get information. Discussion took place regarding raffle (a big moneymaker). Suggestions were made to use chapter money to buy longboard and/or gift certificates for wetsuits to use as raffle items.
Open Discussion: Dave W. proposed that a blog be established on the local chapter website, especially to connect with younger surfers. Discussion ensued. A decision was made to try the blog out on a test basis. A suggestion was made and approved to pay for the website out of the chapter treasury, $240 a year paid in advance. Kevin suggests soliciting advertisements and/or donations from local businesses to help pay for the website.
Next Meeting: March 7 at 4 p.m., at Walt and Jackie’s house (thank you, Walt and Jackie!).
Welcome to the Mendocino County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.